Oleg Hollmann and Sebastian Deufel are the minds behind the album „Die Wildnis“ („the wilderness“ ). The sound of the Berlin based duo is founded on the restriction to the two main instruments baritone sax and drums, but does unfold through incorporating the full expressional means of the recording studio. In between these opposing poles, the heavy mass of sound is being cast into shape during the course of the seven tracks of the album while the cooperation with multi-instrumentalist Ruth Schepers adds a metallic sheen. The musical frugality as well as the context make for a political album.
In the words of the artists:
A word on time reference: What does it mean to create music in times of war?
It is hard to put into words -or music for that matter- the impressions and feelings of the last year
Yet we want to try it, if haltingly at first. Like a sip of alcohol, sarcasm helps with getting started: A set phrase, four beats of a kick drum. Don`t they say that music is best suited for expressing and sharing existential topics and the strongest of emotions? Music, too, knows those moments in which you´d rather shut up.
A few weeks ago I read of a Ukrainian photographer, who, facing the destruction of his hometown, didn´t feel the urge to „...point his camera on the misery“. As a professional, do you have to force yourself to document the war? And what will be left for us to do? Overcome the shock-induced paralysis and talk about the war, put it into sound, dance it, in order not to surrender?
Sounds a bit (ch)easy and smells like clichée...Here in Berlin the war, being far away one moment and painfully close the next, eludes every logic, every order.
Excess, mayhem – that’s the violence and the silence thereafter, the cold and the heat, hunger and abundance. What stream do we have to go up in order to face that wilderness?
It’s the stream of refugees, the digital stream of the war on information, and it’s the stream of oil and gas at whose source civil order collapses in the hail of bombs. Here, like at the origin of coordinates, the wilderness can expose its full power – despite having long since been cleared by humans and then covered with concrete can expose its full power and ironically still having its safe haven right within us.
When we first meet in Studio Wong Kreuzberg in ´21, the war in Ukraine is in preparation. Some might say it already has been going on for 8 years. Or has war always been there, being the intrinsic normal state of human cohabitation? Anyway, we are in Berlin, in the quietness of a music studio. We want to create music, record it. But at the same time we can not draw a line between our art and reality. Jazz music doesn´t lend itself to programme music particularly well. After all, „programme“, the explicit, the intention isn’t really tangible. Examples of music being misused as torture or a stimulant are too numerous. Neither does the antipode fit our understanding of music, and of jazz in particular: the escape into a universe of conventions, predetermined structures and combinatorics - well, that too has its justification.
So, we want to do it. We want to play facing the world as it is and have this world within our music. On „Die Wildniss“ there are songs, there is chaos and there is anarchy, there is abstract constraint, pointless freedom, harshness, melancholy, cynicism. And yes, over all it is a dark album.
Oleg Hollmann / Sebastian Deufel / May 2022